During last night’s heated town hall, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) took a principled stance against employing harsh rhetoric to “scare” seniors about the future of Medicare. Describing Paul Ryan’s plan for Medicare, Barletta said, “So whatever you hear, that seniors are going to lose their benefits, I’m telling you right now, it’s an outright lie“:
BARLETTA: This plan does nothing to affect anyone 55 years and older and I honesty, when we start doing things to scare senior citizens, when politicians do that to get elected, I believe they need to find a different occupation. Because if this is what you need to do to get yourself elected and to keep that job, I don’t believe you deserve that job.
But in his campaign against then-Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA), Barletta relied on the very same kind of fear mongering rhetoric he now condemns to scare seniors about the cuts to Medicare in the Affordable Care Act. “[T]here are 165 provisions relating to Medicare in the healthcare reform law. These changes aren’t just going to affect future generations – they’re going to affect today’s senior citizens and near-seniors,” Barletta’s campaign website states. “Paul Kanjorski voted FOR this healthcare bill. He voted to cut Medicare by $500 billion, and he voted for all of the changes that will dramatically worsen the health care that seniors receive.” Barletta even used this catchy ad to attack Kanjorski, arguing that seniors would have to “dig deeper” into their pockets to purchase coverage. Watch it:
In reality, the health law does not cut the current Medicare budget, but slows growth in the program by removing approximately $500 billion from future spending over the next 10 years. The changes help stabilize the program by eliminating overpayments and slowly phasing in payment adjustments that encourage providers to deliver quality care more efficiently. As a result the law extends the life of the Medicare trust fund by 12 years and allows seniors to retain all of their guaranteed Medicare benefits.